Guest Blog: Quality of Life Enabled by MEMS

Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS)—tiny micro-machines that provide intelligent sensing and actuation—enable a high degree of interactivity with the environment. If you’re a fan of Nintendo Wii, Apple iPhone, iPad and i-everything else, you have MEMS to thank because it’s MEMS-enabled enhancements that make video games more engaging, smartphones and tablets more intelligent (and fun), and e-readers easier to read. While I love many of these cool consumer devices dearly, I have to ask myself, have these products TRULY improved the quality of life of humankind?

Honestly, no.

The good news for the biomedical community is that MEMS is not limited in scope to consumer products. It is an excellent match for new biomedical applications that improve quality of life (QoL) in a variety of ways. And it is THIS class of applications that are allowing designers of biomedical and healthcare applications to accomplish what we never thought possible.

At the upcoming Microtech QoL Symposium (June 14, 2011, Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA), hosted by MEMS Industry Group (MIG), we have recruited some top innovators in biomedicine to describe how they use MEMS in life-enhancing and even life-saving QoL applications. I am talking about Dr. Marvin Slepian, co-founder, chairman, chief scientific and medical officer at SynCardia Systems, who will deliver the opening keynote at the QoL Symposium. Whereas heart-failure patients were once hospitalized while awaiting a heart transplant, today the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart, which relies on Omron’s MEMS mass flow sensor, offers a bridge-to-transplant total heart replacement for patients who have end-stage heart failure of both ventricles (biventricular failure). 

Brian Wirth, global product manager at GE Measurement & Control Solutions, will explore recent advancements in biosensor RFID tags during his closing keynote.

A sampling of our other speakers includes:

  • Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, distinguished member of the technical staff at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, who will explore the BioMEMS’ connection to some amazing developments in tissue engineering, organ-assist devices and drug delivery systems;
  • Dr. Randy Goodall, president and CEO of NanoMedical Systems, who will discuss the ways in which Personalized Molecular Drug-delivery Systems are getting practitioners and biotech to rethink traditional pharmaceuticals;
  • Anmol Madan, PhD, co-founder and inventor of ginger.io, a smartphone platform that models individual and aggregate health patterns; and
  • Mark Diperri, senior field applications engineer at Freescale Semiconductor, who will present advancements in MEMS-based patient-monitoring systems which may prevent future safety concerns, including life-threatening events.

If you would like to learn more about recent developments in remote healthcare monitoring and management, preventative care, healthcare delivery and/or replacement technologies, please join me in Boston on June 14 or contact me via email: klightman[a]memsindustrygroup.org.

Karen Lightman, managing director of MEMS Industry Group